The theme of National Health Center Week this year - Celebrating America’s Health Centers: The Key to Healthier Communities - is meant to recognize the ways in which health centers serve as the foundation of health within their community. As we kickoff this incredible week of celebration, we have designated days within the week to showcase key elements of success within the Health Center Program. Today, we celebrate the thousands of Consumer Board Members, health center patients who serve as volunteers to help support and direct their local health centers to meet the true needs of the community. Today we’re hearing from Yvonne Davis, Consumer Board Member and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at Health Care Partners of South Carolina, Consumer Board Representative for NACHC’s Board of Directors and Chair of NACHC’s Consumer Board Member Committee. Yvonne will share what community health centers mean to her and all the ways in which she advocates for her community and her health center as a Consumer Board Member.
For Yvonne Davis, community health centers are just about that: community. Ms. Davis is an active and devoted Consumer Board Member and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at Health Care Partners of South Carolina and chair of NACHC’s Consumer Board Member Committee. Born and raised in Marion County, SC, Yvonne has worked hard to give back to her community in any way she can. She became a Board Member of her local community health center in 1992, when she was the PTA President of her children’s school. The school’s principal reached out to her to see if she would like to join the board of the local health center, without pause, Yvonne said ‘yes’. During her time on the Board, Yvonne has witnessed Health Care Partners of South Carolina transform and expand their reach to neighboring Florence and Horry counties – expansion that was driven by the shared vision and commitment of the Board and Staff. In 2014, Yvonne played a central role in scouting out and sealing the deal on a new location for the health center at a time when they needed room to grow to continue serving the incredible unmet need in the community. Just last year Health Care Partners saw a huge addition at one of their sites: the incorporation of a dental unit into the health center, a feat Yvonne is incredibly proud of accomplishing.
Yvonne is always asking, “How can we collaborate to make things better for the community?” She strongly believes in the power of community health centers not only to provide quality care, but also to serve as a place for understanding and kinship in the community. Yvonne is a firm believer that community health centers are for everybody, and she means what she says. Her passion and commitment to her health center is contagious – it encourages others in her community to believe in the health center the same way Yvonne does. In fact, Yvonne’s community has witnessed her devotion to public service, and when the local health center needed to move locations several years ago, Yvonne was determined to find a central location for “all people to access the quality of care they deserve.” She managed to find a lot that satisfied these conditions, and called the property owner on the phone. After hearing Yvonne speak about how much this health center means to her and her vision for the new site, the owner decided to donate the property to Health Care Partners! (Afterwards, Yvonne played a big part in the procurement of a $6,000,000 grant for the construction of the health center!)
When asked why being a consumer board member is important to her, Yvonne said it enables her to connect the health center with the community in any and every way she can: at church, at the grocery store, at the library where she used to work. She is continuously strengthening the power of the health center in her community.
At the core of Yvonne’s role as a Consumer Board Member is her desire to help the people she loves. Yvonne says her health center was always there for her when she needed it over the years, and now she wants to be there for people when they need help, too. Some of her responsibilities as a board member include connecting with people and educating her community about the services Health Care Partners provides, and working with people (especially with teenagers) to lead productive and satisfying, healthy lives.
Every year, Yvonne is excited about National Health Center Week for its recognition of hard-working individuals at health centers who go above and beyond their job descriptions to deliver high-quality, patient-centered care. Community health centers provide primary care for everyone, regardless of ability to pay, but they are also much more than that. Health centers listen to the community’s concerns, are there for individuals when they need it, and provide a home to those who seek it. “Had it not been for the community health center, I don’t know where I’d be right now,” said Yvonne, further attesting to the community health center model and the power of Consumer Board Members.
People like Yvonne are what make community health centers and the health center model so special. The ability of Consumer Board Members to represent the specific needs of their communities gives a voice to the more than 25 million patients served by health centers. Our Consumer Board Members are at the very heart of the Health Center Program and Yvonne serves as such a beautiful example of the way in which the voice of our patients is the key to transforming health and wellness across the country.
To learn more about Health Care Partners, go to hcpsc.org.